Why the Sun and the Moon live in the Sky

         A long time ago the Sun and the Moon still lived happily on the surface of the earth as a couple. They lived in this huge comfortable house with a lot of food and clothes. When the Sun went to bed, he closed all doors and windows, so there was no light and the night came. When he woke up, he went outside for a walk and it became day. The Sun often went out with his best friend, our ancestor Tom, because he was a very smart and funny tortoise. It seemed that they would be having a good time forever.

         However, there was this one issue when our ancestor was beside the Sun. The light radiating from the Sun was too intense for Tom to be able to look at anything, and the heat was way too much for him to bear. Furthermore, at the same time Tom longed for the Sun’s house because it was such a nice place to live in, and currently he was living near a rather dirty pond. When it rained, he could only shrink himself in his shell for protection. However, the mud often sneaked into the shell and it was a nightmare for him to remove all that mud out of his shell. Having a house like that of the Sun would allow Tom to stay dry when it rained, and he would not get mud in his shell.

         As a result, our ancestor decided to trick the Sun and his wife the Moon so that they had to leave their house. One day when Tom was walking out with the Sun as usual, he said to the Sun, “We have been best friends for a very long time, and you have come to my place frequently. However I haven’t been to your house even once. Is it okay that I come to your house sometimes?”
         The Sun replied, “Sure, why not? You can come over anytime.”
         “However,” Tom said, “your place is too hot for me to come in. I need water to cool down while I am in your place. Without it I may wither and die.”
         “Well, let me think of something,” the Sun replied.
         “How about this,” Tom said, “we will build a channel from the river to your house, so that the water will come into your house and I will be able to be in the house without leaving the water. However, you might want to have water in your house only when I come, so we also need to build a dam across the river. That way the water will only flow when we want it to.”
         “Great, I will do it for you, my friend.”

         So the Sun invested days and months of labor building a channel and a dam across the river for our ancestor’s sake. When the dam and the channel were finally done, the Sun went to Tom and told him that everything was done. Knowing that the dam would bust sooner or later, the tortoise told the Sun to stay in the house and wait for him to come, because he had some business to do. Just as Tom had predicted, the water filled up high behind the dam and busted it, creating a flood that was higher than the Sun’s roof. As a result, the Sun and his wife the Moon had to evacuate to the sky to stay away from the flood. As he was moving to the sky, he saw our ancestor Tom smiling triumphantly behind the dam. Knowing that he was tricked, the Sun had to swallow his anger because there was nothing he could do at the moment.

         Since then the Sun tried to keep a close watch on every action and movement of our ancestor. When he wakes up, he comes out on the sky and watches every tortoise (because we look kind of similar, and the Sun is so far above, so he just watches everyone), and it becomes day. When he is tired, he moves to the horizon to sleep, and his wife the Moon comes out instead to watch us, and it becomes night. On the night without the Moon, both of them are sleeping together, which is natural, of course, since they are a couple. But it didn’t matter to our ancestor what the Sun or the Moon do, because they were high up in the sky, and now Tom had the house as the perfect living place. By using his tricks, our ancestor was able to deceive the Sun and drove both the Sun and the Moon out of the earth’s surface. Deceiving the Sun - that was quite a feat, wasn’t it!


Image information: A tortoise cartoon
Web source: Brain Bounce

         Author’s note: The original story is quite simple: The Sun and the Water were best friends, and the Sun often visited the Water but the Water never visit the Sun’s house. So the Sun invited the Water to his house, and the Water caused a flood that made the Sun and the Moon to flee to the sky. I changed the original story quite a bit in order to fit it in my story frame. I changed the Sun’s best friend into a tortoise. I changed the flood from being an accident to a deliberate plot by the tortoise to get the Sun and the Moon out of the house. I also add various details about why the tortoise wanted the Sun’s house, and the conversation between the tortoise and the Sun in which the Sun is tricked into doing the hard work for the tortoise only to be driven out of his own house. Finally, I add my own explanation of why there is day and night at the beginning when the Sun and the Moon are still on the earth’s surface, and in the end when they are on the sky. In the later explanation, I make it so that it ties closely to the bitterness that the Sun has toward the tortoise.

Story: Why the Sun and the Moon live in the Sky
Book: Folk Stories From Southern Nigeria
Author: Elphinstone Dayrell
Year Published: 1910
Web Source: Sacred Text
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